Russell Jones

BRANDON — Brandon Public Works Director Daryl Burlett resigned effective Aug. 22. The departure comes less than a month after a town payment to Burlett — in the amount of $22,011 — came under scrutiny at the July 29 selectboard meeting. The issue was not made widely known until Brandon resident Charles Powell spoke up during public comment period of Monday’s selectboard meeting. “I’ve heard from several sources that a town employee who was instrumental to the Route 7 project has resigned after being paid $20,000 for services he has not rendered,” Powell read from a prepared statement. He...

RNESU SUPERINTENDENT JEANNE Collins is concerned about a Trump administration proposal that would tighten eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — know as SNAP. That program provides food support systems to low-income families, and participants with children in schools are automatically enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.
BRANDON — A snapshot from the state of how local schools performed on state tests show a sharp disparity in performances between those on free and reduced-price lunches and those who are not on the program. Now, a new change in federal law could compound that issue further. A Trump administration proposal would tighten eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — know as SNAP. That program provides food support systems to low-income families, and participants with children in schools are automatically enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program. The new...

ALYZA MCKEIGHAN, 17, of Brandon, is a rookie driver in the 500cc Mini Sprint Division at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
BRANDON — For most teenagers, the summer before their senior year of high school is a time for hanging out with friends, enjoying time without worrying about their studies and relaxing in the warm weather. For Alyza McKeighan, a rising senior at Otter Valley Union High School, relaxing has been the furthest thing from her mind this summer. McKeighan is a rookie driver in the 500cc Mini Sprint division at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven. Racing is not only a family affair for the 17-year-old, but also a way of building confidence in her skills behind the wheel and as a person. “It started...

THE NEW “WALGREENS” sign appears prominently on the drug store in Brandon, but the outlines of the former “Rite Aid” sign that it replaced last week still shows through. Middlebury and Bristol Rite Aid stores also got new Walgreens signs. Brandon Reporter photo/Russell Jones
ADDISON COUNTY AND BRANDON — The effects of a $4 billion business deal announced in 2017 are just now rippling through our part of Vermont. Rite Aid stores in Brandon, Bristol and Middlebury last week hung signs or banners announcing the new name of the retail drug store — Walgreens. Under the agreement made between Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid, Walgreens last year purchased 1,932 stores and three distribution centers from Rite Aid for an all-cash purchase price of $4.3 billion on a cash-free, debt-free basis. Though this was a large merger, with plenty of cash on the table, it...
BRANDON — A ruptured sewer line in downtown Brandon that led to over 3 million gallons of untreated sewage to flow directly into the Neshobe River in late February 2018 resulted in a $12,000 fine against the town. The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation announced the fine this month, largely for failing to report the release to the state in a timely manner. “This is the settlement that the selectboard agreed to a couple months ago for the March 2018 sewer line break,” Town Manager Dave Atherton said. According to the press release from the state, in the early...
BRANDON — The municipal tax rate in Brandon will see an increase of about 3 percent this coming fiscal year, rising from last year’s 93 cents per $100 of assessed property value to 96 cents this year. The breakdowns for the 2019- 2020 tax rates are 80 cents for the town budget, 6 cents for various voter-approved appropriations and 8 cents for the fire district. The education tax rates have been calculated by the state and come out to $1.33 for homeowners and $1.55 for non-residents per $100. With education rates figured in, the total tax rate for a Brandon resident will be $2.29 for residents...

EVALYNN HERMANSKI, granddaughter of Sam and Debra Markowski visits her grandfather's farm and poses in front of the hemp planter. Brandon Reporter photo/Russell Jones
PITTSFORD — “Our secret’s out,” grinned Sam Markowski as he surveyed a dirt field full of different farm equipment. “We’re growing hemp up here in Pittsford.” A close relative of the marijuana plant, hemp looks and smells just like it, but is absent the mind-altering chemicals found in its biological cousin. Hemp also has a wide variety of uses, most notably of late as the main ingredient in products made with CBD (shorthand for the chemical compound “cannabidiol”). For the Markowskis, the decision to plant hemp came down to one thing. “We wanted the land to stay in the family,” Sam Markowski...
BRANDON — A research professor in Brandon has taken a skill he developed as a scientist and used it to pivot into writing works of fiction. Gary Meffe is releasing a book that captures the feel of life in rural Vermont so well you would think he was a lifelong Vermonter. “I learned concise writing as a scientist and I feel I came in with good basic tools based on 30 years of writing professionally,” Meffe said. “I had never really dreamed of being a novelist, but I realized long ago that I do like writing.” The New Jersey native said he was looking through a bookshelf one day and saw the...
BRANDON — Davenport Solar LLC has reached an agreement with the landowners adjacent to their proposed new solar site near Syndicate Road and West Creek Road in Brandon and also with the state. The agreement clears the way for a certificate of public good that could soon be issued by the Public Utility Commission (PUC), the agency that regulates utilities in Vermont. The proposed solar array would generate 15 megawatts of electricity. For the sake of comparison, in Addison County there is a 4.99MW array in Panton (off Panton Road near Jersey Street), a 2.2MW array off Route 7 north of New...
BRANDON — School administrators are assuring parents of students at Neshobe Elementary that they are taking steps to mitigate the dangers of elevated radon gas levels in the Brandon building. In the district’s letter to parents last Wednesday, Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Jeanńe Collins said these screening values are not an immediate health concern to students or staff as there is no known acute health effects associated with exposure to radon. “The Department of Health has been very clear there is no imminent health risk,” Collins said. “The district is taking...


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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100